Friday, April 29, 2011

We now have 2 litters of bunnies!

Ginger's babies - 8 in all

Ashley's babies - we think there are 9 in all. Hers are black with a few spotted ones.

Sorry the pictures aren't better, there is SO MUCH HAIR in there and I don't want to mess with the nest to much, it upsets the moms.

We thought we had bred both rabbits, however, Ashley was not showing a SINGLE sign of pregnancy, so we thought that she hadn't had a successful breeding. Last night when I checked on them, there was no nest, no indication of anything out of the norm.

When we returned home after a field trip today, Jacob said there was a bunch of hair in Ashley's cage. When I went over there, there were a bunch of little babies moving around. Her babies are "hoppy". Ginger's babies just kind of hang out and chill, Ashley's are constantly moving around their little nest, they seriously look like they are hopping around in there! 

Now, it appears that one of the cats that we rescued on Easter morning (they were abandoned in a box at the door of the church) is about to deliver. She is HUGE, acting very strange and hiding in a queening box. I wouldn't be surprised if she has them in the next 24 hours. I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The babies are here!

Freaky elf ears!

Ginger finally had her babies! They were born on Monday morning between 7:15 and 7:45. Unbelievably she had 8 babies! They have no hair and look like little pigs. The fluff  this baby is in is fur that Ginger pulled from herself to make her nest. The amazing thing is that she looks like she still has all her hair. As soon as the babies start to come out of the nest, we will move them into the big hutch as this one CANNOT handle 9 rabbits!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bees & a birthday

There is no family resemblance whatsoever!

Jared really enjoyed helping get the bees ready to hive. Here he is spraying sugar syrup onto the foundations so the bees have something to snack on.  Later Jared announced that he loved being near the bees and that they really calmed him. He has stated a few times that he wished he could hear that sound whenever he got upset so that he could calm more quickly. I suggested we go sit out there so we can hear them and create a physical memory, one that he can recall any time or place to help him calm himself down. I thought it was interesting that he noticed a difference so quickly and wanted to re-create it. Perhaps it was because he knew that if he was not calm he would get stung!

I did the first hive behind Mikayla. Now is was Mikayla's turn to hive them. She was so excited! Here she is shaking them out of their package onto the frames.

We now have approximately 6,000 bees in their new homes. Adam & Jared were so brave they were with us the entire time and had on NO EQUIPMENT! Eventually the bee on Adam's hand in this picture did sting him. I think it didn't like the fact that he was a Venus Fly Trap. But after a copper penny & benedryl spray, he was good as new!  Shortly after that I felt something tickle me and with out thinking, I scratched it to discover that a bee had flown up my shirt! So, I got a little sting to. Honey bee stings are NOTHING compared to those blasted hornets! I will take a bee any day!

Mikayla had a great birthday yesterday! She turned 13, so hard to believe that I now have an official teenager! I picked her up from school around10:30, took her to the ortho where she got her first birthday gift, no more bite guard!  After the ortho, I let her play hookie for the rest of the day. She just finished the 3rd quarter with an entire year of straight A's so I thought she deserved it. So off we went to get some snacks for our drive up to Snohomish. It was a beautiful day for a drive. Still a little overcast but just enough to keep you from getting too hot in the car.

Once we got to Snohomish we picked up our bee packages, a few more deeps and feeders and then headed home for hiving. Then dinner and presents that ended with a treasure hunt all over the farm. She was lead to the "treasure" in the shed were she found a new mountain bike. She was very excited and couldn't wait to head out. She promptly started riding it all over the property and announced that her knees no longer hit the handle bars....I guess the bike was a little over due!

After a little riding around, it was time for cake and ice cream. Then mom discovered that after all the birthdays since December, I was indeed out of candles. I guess I should have thought of checking before I went to put them in the cake. So, instead we had a "red-neck" cake and used match sticks...they burn MUCH faster than candles! We RUSHED through the birthday song and she blew them out before we were even finished singing. After yummy Costco cake & Kirkland vanilla ice cream (our favorites), it was time to go ride some more. When she went to bed last night, she said it was the best birthday she has ever had and that she didn't want to go to sleep because that meant it was over.

It truly was a GREAT day!

Goat Stanchion

Ben took the boys out and had them help build this goat stanchion. It was a lot of fun for them and Mikayla & I are grateful as hoof trimming is MUCH easier! Before it was a 3 person job and then you could only get 1/2 a hoof if lucky. This time they jumped right up, fought the foot hold for a minute and within about 10 minutes all four hooves were done and shots were given! What a difference proper equipment makes! Additionally the twins got to mark some achievements off in their Webelo books, played with power tools and hung out with dad!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Home for those that need to be "re-homed" & a name for our home

In February we re-homed these two Pygmy goats, Emmy & Tucker. They came from someone that Ben works with. Their original owners found that they just didn't have time to care for them the way they should and wanted to give them to someone that could. This was our first "re-home" addition. Emmy, the black one, is very shy and afraid of humans. Originally her name was Serena, but no one could remember it correctly. We are hoping that with time she will be more interested in us. Tucker is a little more friendly and will actually let you touch him! He is getting a little better with time.
This is a picture of Clyde, one of the newer additions to our little farm. He joined us in March. He is a cross between a Pygmie & Angora goat. He is SO CUTE!!! His little personality is so much fun. He truly doesn't know that he is a goat, he thinks he is a "do-man", a cross between a dog and a human. His mom rejected him at birth so he had to be bottle fed. His owner brought him into their home and kept him there until he got a little older. His favorite playmate was the family dog. As he got bigger, they moved him outside to find that he just didn't get along with the llamas and alpacas. The owners sold off the other goats so he was alone. Thus the email to the King County 4H which brought him to our attention. We are so glad that we answered that request, I think I can honestly say that he the favorite for all of us.

Then earlier this month we re-homed six hens. A friend of ours moved to a new home and couldn't take her chickens so we said we would like them. We now get 9-11 eggs a day! I am learning many different ways to prepare eggs and we are either giving away or selling the extras.

One day the kids decided they wanted to try selling them and in 20 minutes we sold 4 dozen! Adam put on a parrot suit (from an old Halloween) and flapped his wings. One lady said that it put it over the edge and that she just HAD to stop. Obviously Adam earned some commission for his work!

Next week, we are picking up 2 packages of Italian Honey Bees as I have decided that I am going to try my hand at beekeeping. I am really excited and hope that this year will be good enough that we will have enough surplus honey to sell.

Ultimately we want to get into animals that help earn their keep around here. We want to make goat milk soap, sell honey, candles and eggs. Additionally we are putting in an orchard and with time hope to have excess fruit to sell as well. As you can tell we are learning how to become much more self reliant. It is amazing to see how dramatically our life has changed in the last year!

This year I have been selling a few grass fed steers for my brother-in-law and decided that I want to sell my own beef instead of his, so we have purchased a heffer and a steer so that we can sell the grass-fed beef next year as well.

So all these new ventures have made me think that I really need to come up with a marketable name for our little place. Right now my favorite is "Bit of Heaven Farm". Basically it describes all the different things that we can sell that truly can be considered gifts from heaven in addition to the beauty that completely surrounds us when everything is in bloom.

So, I would love your ideas for a name if you have one. Ben had "Land of Milk & Honey" (for bees & goat milk) but some of the hits on the internet were not good and I didn't want it to get confused with something else. I also thought of the "original" (ha ha) name of Southwick Farms, Rainier Farms, Southwick Six, etc....

Well, that is it for now, send your names if you come up with something and I will share some our bounty with you if we pick your name!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So, here is a picture of our new house. We moved in in March 2010 and have had a blast! We have had a sharp learning curve getting to know what it is like to be land & livestock owners. There is never a dull moment and there is always something that needs to be done. I am gaining a greater understanding why some people have junky looking property when they have more land. There is always so much to do and I often feel like I can never catch up. But we love it!